Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hellhound on My Ale

Dogfish Head is one of the Godfathers of craft beer in the US. If you are from the Northeast, as soon as you start getting into craft beer, you will be quickly introduced to the interesting beers of Dogfish Head. I like the way that Dogfish operates, putting out a solid core group of relatively normal beers (relatively when you compare to their other beers) and putting out a bunch of one-offs or experimental seasonals.

Today, I am covering Robert Johnson's Hellhound on my Ale, one of the two beers in Dogfish's Music series (the other is Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, which is awesome). The experimentation version of this is somewhat tame by Dogfish's standards. It is pretty much an American Imperial IPA that is brewed with lemons. 

Now would be a good time for me to introduce my warning about Dogfish Head beers: Always read the label or ask someone knowledgeable about the taste. This is mostly to give the beer a fair chance. I do the same thing with other experimental breweries, like Allagash. If you just hop right into the beer without anticipating the flavors, you may be surprised. Some of the flavors can be a little "off-centered", to use Dogfish's own motto, so you may be off put. Keep drinking, they add the ingredients for a reason. Unless you have an undying love for Dogfish, or you are just really accustomed to experimental beers, it is going to take you a few sips to begin to understand the beer.

Hellhound on my Ale is decidedly not in this category. It is a 10% ABV Imperial IPA that has been brewed with lemons and that is exactly what it tastes like. It is very hoppy, and the hops are accentuated by the lemon peel that is added to the brew. How could lemon accent hops you ask? Well they both have citrusy notes, so the lemon and the hops kind of work together. It is oddly refreshing for an imperial IPA and definitely worth a try, especially for all of you hop heads. It is a change of pace, but a good one. 

Effectively, if you are feeling adventurous at all, go for a Dogfish Head beer. Many beverage stores will have plenty on the shelf. My local beer store has no fewer than 8 different Dogfish's at one time. In fact, last week they had the 75 minute IPA, which I previously thought was only available in the brewhouse. When you do drink your DfH, take your time. They are pretty much all sippers and will be different from what you are used to. You may not like them all, but I can all but guarantee you that you will find a few that you really enjoy. 

At the very least, you should appreciate everything that Dogfish Head has done for craft brewing in America. Sam Calagione, the owner and founder, has done everything imaginable to promote craft beer. He has written a homebrew book (as well as a few other books on beer) and even started up a tv series called Brewmasters. Dogfish puts out some of the most unique beers in the US, if not the world. Give them a try and see what you think!

Glassware: Tulip, Snifter

Synonym Beer: Although they are different style, it is similar to a lemony Nugget Nectar (Troegs)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like.

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